Where Tradition Meets Modernity

For businessman Sreesh Rao and his architect wife Shama, their home in Coimbatore’s Bharathi Park Road, built on a trapezium shaped plot of land is like a dream come true. One among many of the plush residences that dot this textile rich town, the Rao home is modern, edgy with a contemporary twist and yet traditional all at once. RITZ explores the interiors of this 7,000 square feet large mansion.

AA Krishna Rao established Ideal Stores in Coimbatore during the year 1948 and today his son Sreesh and his architect wife Shama manage the enterprise. The couple decided to build a new home for themselves on a trapezium shaped twenty cent site on Bharathi Park Road, which happens to be located on the northern side of the wooded Forest College. Shama took it upon herself to design and build the 7,000 square feet house within a span of one year and put the plan with a critical path by using the techniques she had picked up while pursuing architecture at Manipal.

A large tree on the road adds a green canopy to the residence – the beautiful vertical garden with about 4,000 plants adds to the aesthetics of the house. “The garden is a labour of love and our entire family and household help take care of it. It is the first vertical garden in Coimbatore and it just consumes a little over 20 litres of water everyday,” says an enthusiastic Sreesh.

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The living room is dressed in luxurious leather sofas and embellished with high quality marble. Shama has used her ingenuity by adorning the walls with attractive three dimensional butterflies made from rubber. A small wall-mount showcases birds made of different materials, picked by the couple when they went to the US for the graduation of their daughter Shreeya, who has just completed her academic programme at the Culinary Institute of America in New York.

The open kitchen is the largest ‘room’ in this house. It has the latest kitchen equipment including a state-of-the-art coffee machine. There is another smaller kitchen, plus utility, which can be locked away when the family is out on work for it has access from outside. Shama adds, “All of us are in the kitchen all the time and we eat here everyday. Our guests like it too and therefore we have got it air conditioned. We have put up the best equipment here for we have to ‘walk the talk’ having spent nearly 70 years in business of selling kitchen articles!”

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The first landing on the stairs shows off a bit of family history through a collage of photographs covering over hundred years of history, that was dug out from the family archives. The first floor has a bar, a gym and a well stocked library which houses books, particularly read by Shreeya’s younger brother Sharan who is right now at the Rishi Valley School. The home theatre room is a nice piece of work and has comfortable leather seats facing a large screen. The little open terrace is also used for performing ‘havans’ at home.

The entire house looks rectangular in spite of the site being in the shape of a trapezium for Shama has intelligently placed the dogs’ kennels, services and quarters for the household help in the offset. The colours are pastels, brown and a little bit of red to add spice on the walls which also feature eclectic art collected by the family over the years.

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“We used wooden flooring and it is really easy to maintain. Our family loves nature and therefore we used fly ash bricks and metal windows in order to conserve wood. LED lights are in place to help us save energy. We have put up an efficient rain water harvesting system too,” adds a gleaming Sreesh.

On going through the house in a relaxed manner coupled with the thoughtful insights offered by Sreesh and Shama one can realise that the very American looking home has a true Indian tradition within. This family has really added to the architectural diversity of Cosmopolis Coimbatore.